68 Vietnam Veterans walked through the Fresno Airport Monday morning with no idea what was in store for them.
They took a 5 hour non-stop flight to Maryland and as soon as they landed were greeted by many!
Bear Campbell served in the U.S. Navy from 1971-1977. He said this experience is all around inspiring.
“Still can’t get over the excitement and the awesomeness of the tour,” said Campbell.
Day two’s first stop was the Air Force Memorial. This was special for six out of the 68 Honor Flight Veterans who served in the Air Force.
Pete Rivera is one of the six Air Force Veterans. He served from 1966-1970. He said he would have never seen his memorial if it wasn’t for Honor Flight.
“Oh fantastic, it reminds me of back in the day as they say,” said Rivera.
The Vets also toured the Korean War Memorial followed by the Vietnam War Memorial.
This memorial was special for so many of these Veterans on the trip. Because a lot of friends, family, classmates, and comrades were on this wall.
Rod Brightwell is an Army Veteran. He served during 1968-1970. He said this wall brought back so many memories.
“They stay your buddies for life and you don’t forget the guys that covered you,” said Brightwell.
Terry Rommereim is a counselor that came on the trip. He said many of these Veterans are still dealing with the pain of losing comrades 50 years later.
“It’s like losing a family member. You know actually in some ways they even become closer to their comrades in the service,” said Rommereim.
Day three the Veterans visited Arlington National Cemetery and saw the Changing of the Guard Ceremony by active duty soldiers.
After they finished the tour at the Marine Memorial. Upon arrival the Veterans received a much appreciated applause.
On the flight back home there was mail call. This is when friends and family wrote each Veteran letters thanking them for their service.
Bob Vannata is an Army Veteran who served during 1967-1968. He received numerous letters and was overwhelmed with emotions.
“This one is from Allison.. Dear Veteran I want to say thank you for being so brave you protected us from bad people.”
Honor Flight is completely free for the Veterans. If you want to become a guardian or want to donate to this cause go to their website http://cvhonorflight.org/.